γ-secretase studied by atomistic molecular dynamics simulations: Global dynamics, enzyme activation, water distribution and lipid binding

Manuel Hitzenberger, Martin Zacharias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

γ-secretase, an intramembrane-cleaving aspartyl protease is involved in the cleavage of a large number of intramembrane proteins. The most prominent substrate is the amyloid precursor protein, whose proteolytic processing leads to the production of different amyloid Aβ peptides. These peptides are known to form toxic aggregates and may play a key role in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recently, the three-dimensional structure of γ-secretase has been determined via Cryo-EM, elucidating the spatial geometry of this enzyme complex in different functional states. We have used molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to study the global dynamics and conformational transitions of γ-secretase, as well as the water and lipid distributions in and around the transmembrane domains in atomic detail. Simulations were performed on the full enzyme complex and on the membrane embedded parts alone. The simulations revealed global motions compatible with the experimental enzyme structures and indicated little dependence of the dynamics of the transmembrane domains on the soluble extracellular subunits. During the simulation on the membrane spanning part a transition between an inactive conformation (with catalytic residues far apart) toward a putatively active form (with catalytic residues in close proximity) has been observed. This conformational change is associated with a distinct rearrangement of transmembrane helices, a global compaction of the catalytically active presenilin subunit a change in the water structure near the active site and a rigidification of the protein fold. The observed conformational rearrangement allows the interpretation of the effect of several mutations on the activity of γ-secretase. A number of long-lived lipid binding sites could be identified on the membrane spanning surface of γ-secretase which may coincide with association regions of hydrophobic membrane helices to form putative substrate binding exosites.

Original languageEnglish
Article number640
JournalFrontiers in Chemistry
Volume7
Issue numberJAN
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Amyloid
  • Familial Alzheimer's disease (fAD)
  • Intramembrane aspartyl proteases
  • Intramembrane proteolysis
  • Molecular dynamics (MD)
  • Nicastrin
  • Presenilin
  • γ-secretase

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